Tech’s role in a post-COVID work world

Through hard work and innovation, leaders have found ways to protect their employees during COVID-19 and keep critical banking processes running. Organizations are now looking toward the future and planning their post-pandemic strategies.

Planning for success means significantly rethinking what the future of work looks like in the financial industry and figuring out how to provide the right spaces, tools and support for the best possible employee experiences and business outcomes.

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Few financial institutions will opt to go fully remote, but many are planning for hybrid arrangements where employees have work-from-home options. This will bring greater organizational resiliency, and studies show 76 percent of workers across all verticals want to work from home at least one day a week. There’s now a general expectation that work can be done effectively from anywhere with everyone connected via a digital office.

Seamless, secure and uninterrupted productivity is necessary in an effective digital workplace, and a big part of that is having the correct technology. That includes mobile devices, access to the necessary data and work applications, and user-friendly collaboration tools. It all has to be tied together with excellent connectivity. Financial institutions often face unique regulatory challenges around offsite data access that have to be resolved. Security solutions must address the increased threats that come with remote work so that data and users are as secure as possible.

Offices and branches may change

With the increase in remote work, financial firms are reconsidering large central offices to benefit from the lower costs and improved resiliency associated with having smaller, suburban satellite offices. And as banks weigh reducing their branch networks, thanks to more digital interactions with customers, we may see the consolidation of branches into multipurpose spaces for both office work and customer visits.

Offices and branches, however, aren’t going away. In addition to face-to-face customer interactions, they’re needed to host activities that can’t be done remotely, or at least can’t be done very well. This could include large meetings and certain kinds of team collaboration.

Above all, offices will be wireless, seamless and flexible, so that it’s effortless to move around in them and transition from home to work, for both your employees and your customers.

The customer experience – so critical to success for financial services organizations – starts with the employee experience. Employees are a brand’s spokespeople. Experience affects productivity, morale, engagement, revenue and company culture. Remote and hybrid work change the experience paradigm, and management strategies have to account for it.
Poor technology, for example, can dramatically affect the experience of working from home or onsite in a branch. An employee having a bad experience isn’t as likely to provide a positive experience for a customer.

Leaders will have to reskill to manage remote teams effectively and create the right experiences. Organizations have to ensure that remote users are equal participants, providing the same engaging, collaborative experience as those had by onsite workers.

Omnichannel support to keep it all running

From an IT perspective, remote, hybrid and dynamic workspaces present a host of new challenges to overcome. Technology operations have to provide the same level of support to individuals, regardless of location. Essentially, IT must become user-centric instead of office- or branch-centric.

Automated IT solutions that leverage artificial intelligence and machine-learning dramatically improve user experiences. In many cases, they can fix problems before they hinder workflows. Connectivity issues, for example, often just require a device reset, and that can be sensed and done automatically.

When more is required, omnichannel support options help users in the way they want to be helped. While that could be a traditional phone conversation with a service desk technician, others may prefer smartphone apps, text, email or self-service information sources. If problems can’t be fixed remotely, technicians can be dispatched to the user’s home, or the employee can visit a distributed support location.

While uncertainty about the future will continue, there are enough lessons learned from the pandemic to begin charting the path forward. It’s clear that flexible and more nimble ways of working are here to stay, so financial institutions must have strategies to capture the benefits of this new normal.

Janna Steinman is vice president of enterprise solution services at CompuCom.